It occasioned lively reader responses, though of the predictable sort. Still, it shows me (if not book editors) that readers still care about these endless, pointless wars.
Indiscriminate shooting of civilians in Iraq
April 16, 2010
THE GUNNING down of two Reuters employees and 10 Iraqi civilians from a US Army helicopter, as shown in a “graphic video’’ posted on WikiLeaks (“Video shows ’07 US air attack that killed news photographer, driver in Iraq,’’ Page A2, April 6), is being portrayed as both an anomaly and the cost of war. While it was the ultimate cost to the journalists, whose camera was mistaken for a weapon, and to the Iraqis who arrived to help the wounded after the first round of shots, the incident is unusual only in that it has come to the public’s attention.
When dozens of US veterans of the hostilities in Iraq testified in March 2008 at an event called Winter Soldier, they presented documented evidence that suggested the killing of unarmed civilians was frequent, systemic, pervasive, and a result of official policy. They also testified that the rules of engagement, which the soldiers in the leaked video apparently followed, were contradictory, often changed, and loosely enforced.
So it’s not surprising that the indiscriminate shooting of civilians sounds like just another day’s work. You can hear how routine it is in the voices of the gunship crew as they prepare to shoot and then survey their handiwork. The video comes with a warning that the images might be disturbing, but what is really disturbing is how distant and surgical — how commonplace — such actions have come to seem.